I spent the last few years trying to learn and understand this life experiment called, Embrace the Chaos, where I am learning how to move forward. Although you can never be certain of anything, I have attempted to write down some core beliefs and ways I am learning to deal with uncertainty in life and coping with uncertainty that allows me to live happier and more fulfilled. Below is a summary of a “Manifesto” that I have developed based on my own personal experience. I hope you find it useful.
Embrace the Chaos Manifesto
First, how do I define Chaos?
I define chaos as the uncertainty and unpredictability of life we are living in today. From uncertainty in the economy, uncertainty in the workplace, uncertainty in our kid’s education and uncertainty in relationships, we see and hear about uncertainty everywhere! We don’t know how to deal with uncertainty and unpredictability of events in our job, career, relationship, business or life. This nagging feeling of not knowing what bad event is coming next causes us much anxiety, stress and tension. It feels like we’re walking on egg shells all the time.
In a nutshell, I believe there are 4 forces of chaos in our lives:
We don’t know what’s going on.
We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow.
It’s all so interconnected and complicated.
Everything is moving so fast, it’s hard to keep up.
Second, what does it feel like when you’re in chaos?
Anxiety, Stress, Tension, Frustration, Helpless, Confusion, Hopeless, Passionless…I’ve been there. During my journey of dealing with stress and dealing with anxiety caused by uncertainty, I felt stuck and anxious all the time. I just didn’t know which direction to go because all options looked hopeless.
When we feel like we have NO CONTROL, we feel helpless. When we don’t know how to deal with uncertainty, we get anxiety and stress. We want to be able to feel as though we have some control over our job, our career, our business, our relationships, our kids and our life. But when we feel as though we do not have any control, we hide…and sometimes run away…from ourselves…unwilling to even try.
Chaos Makes us Freeze
Stuck. Paralyzed by over analysis. We postpone. We get anxious. We stress. We wait for the ‘right time’. We feel like we’re in a rut. We feel trapped.
Paralyzed by over analysis, we over think and try very hard to predict what we think will happen next. And when we can’t pinpoint how things will play out, we stress and get anxious. Uncertainty makes you think twice and three times and a hundred times about lots of things, your relationship, your career, your business, your life. And you end up losing time…waiting for the ‘right’ moment that never comes or the ‘perfect’ person who doesn’t show up.
Third, what have I learned?
Over the last several years, I have been learning to deal with uncertainty and cope with the unpredictable nature of life and also chaos at work. I have shared some of my learnings on the way, right here on this blog. And I’m still learning each day how to deal with uncertainty at work and in life. Based on what I have learned on my own personal journey, I believe there is good news.
It’s an approach I learned through my own life experience that has helped me deal and cope with uncertainty and the seemingly random nature of life and work today. It has allowed me the awesome gift of being able to move forward in life. Not a perfect solution by any means but an approach that costs nothing and is really up to me and not dependent on outside circumstances. I sum it up in three words:
Embrace the Chaos!
Accept that life is uncertain, unpredictable, complicated and fast. Accept the impermanence and imperfections. Stop trying to bring your narrative of order and perfection to life which has none.
There is no perfect job, no perfect person, perfect relationship or perfect life. There are jobs, people, relationships and life. Stop fighting change. Let go of your ego. Accept it all as it is…good, bad, great, short, up and down, awful, crazy and every way in between. IT IS WHAT IT IS. Life has always been in chaos…and gets more complex (entropy) so let’s get used to it. Accept that you cannot control life – you can only control YOURSELF…your own actions and your own thoughts. Not anyone else’s. Just your own. You have a choice…always have. To think differently. To take actions. To move. To use your own hands. To create. To innovate. To do. To live. LET GO of trying to control what comes on your path. Just control yourself. Let go of trying to force life to bend your way. Uncertainty never goes away…you just learn to cope with it. Accepting uncertainty in life is my first realization.
2. Don’t Over Think
Don’t Over Analyze. Don’t Over Plan. Don’t Try to Predict.
Stop trying to predict the future. You cannot. No matter how smart we are, we cannot accurately predict what will happen tomorrow. Everything is so complicated. All the information out there cannot show us the right path we should be taking. Things change constantly. It’s fine to think about pros and cons and the consequences of actions but too often our mind tries to get perfectly certain and gets lost in the process. We allow our mind to be distracted by what others think, say or do, being paralyzed by words casually thrown our way. Stress and tension is often caused by trying to bring certainty and predictability to real life where things are so fast and interconnected and complex that you simply cannot predict anything accurately. Once I realized that my predictions about a career, business, the economy or my life in the future, were not predictable, I got working on the things I could control today!
3. Move Forward
You are still in charge of YOU. Take action. Control your own thoughts. Focus on your own actions. Say YES. Try anything. Participate. Dig deep. Get to work on your purpose in life. If you don’t know, get out and try something. Throw yourself into a specific cause. Get out of the house. Travel. Taking a trip changes your whole perspective. Take chances. Love. Live. Do.
You’ll feel better almost immediately because you’ll feel like you have control again. You’ll be in charge of you again. You’ll be on your way…somewhere. It’s better than sitting around and waiting for something to happen…you’ll be making things happen.
Life is up, down, good, great and every way in between…and it is short! In a chaotic environment, the walls around us are malleable offering great opportunities for success and happiness for anyone who jumps in and can adapt. You and I have just as good a shot as anyone at success in life because the playing field has been leveled. Anything can happen and everything is possible. A life path worth living is never straight and full of hurdles that you over come while learning and meeting some great people who bring real joy into your life. Each of us has a unique opportunity in our lives to make positive, valuable and long lasting contributions to the people around us. But you have to get off the fence and take action. You have to move forward in life, move forward at work, move forward in a relationship…because we are resilient and know how to navigate life’s challenges.
Here are 12 Reasons to Embrace the Chaos I realized in my own personal journey of learning to deal with uncertainty at work and in life.
This blog and this manifesto comprise some of the lessons I learned in my own personal Life Experiment on how to Embrace the Chaos. I am sharing in the hope that it might help you, as much as it is helping me, learn and grow. Wishing you the best in your own journey!
-Bob Miglani, Author
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